By Sally Ann Murphy
The key to a perfect picnic is the food – fun to eat and easy to make. The perfect Labor Day picnic for my family consists of barbecued chicken, potato salad, green bean salad, lemonade, and brownies. One thing that is guaranteed not to make a picnic fun, however, is if you are worried about gaining a ton while you are eating it. So, in the interest of keeping things fun for everyone, I have written this article to provide you with some healthy recipes for picnic favorites that will make everyone happy and not put an extra five pounds on your waistline! To keep things easy, two of the recipes can be made the night before, and two items are made from a mix (I know, I know, but I’m promising fun and easy, not Julia Child here!)
Barbecue Chicken
This is an easy one. Sauté one green pepper, one clove of garlic and one onion in a skillet, add skinless, boneless chicken breasts, cover in barbecue sauce and simmer for about 20 minutes. Chicken is a wonderfully healthy food, most kids love it, and a little barbecue sauce isn’t going to send the calorie count through the roof.
Potato Salad
Potato Salad – would a Labor Day picnic be complete without it? Boil 2 cups of water, 2 and ½ lbs. of cubed red potatoes and one 14 oz can of fat free chicken broth and cook until tender (about 25 minutes). Drain and let the potatoes cool.
Mix one cup nonfat plain yogurt, the juice of one lemon, ½ cup chopped onion, 2 tablespoons fat-free mayonnaise, 1 tablespoon of olive oil, and salt and pepper to taste. Mix potatoes and yogurt mixture, cover and chill overnight. For variety you can add a hard boiled egg (we don’t because of allergies), or diced cucumbers or celery if you like a little crunch to your potato salad. If this is too bland for you try adding thyme, dill, basil or oregano. Boiling food in fat free chicken broth is a little trick of my husband’s, and it works great for vegetables and pasta, too!
Green Bean Salad
Cook 1 lb. of fresh green beans and drain. Mix in 3 tablespoons of olive oil, 1/ 2 cup lemon juice, 1/ 4 cup minced onions, 1 tablespoon of minced garlic, 1/ 4 teaspoon black pepper and salt to taste. Cover and chill overnight – how easy is that? Green beans are a very healthy choice for a vegetable, and this recipe spices them up nicely.

You can’t have a Labor Day picnic without lemonade. Pick up some Crystal Light – zero calories, easy to make (just add water) and lots of different, fabulous lemonade flavors (strawberry kiwi, anyone?) A healthy alternative to sugar laden sodas and other drinks.
Brownies may not be the typical Labor Day treat, but they are easy and fun and everyone likes them. Pick up a package Betty Crocker Low Fat Brownie Mix – 130 calories per brownie – how easy is that? You can dress these up for people who don’t care for low fat brownies (e.g. your husband) – add some chocolate frosting on top or sprinkle with nuts. Mmmm. This can be made the night before or the morning of your picnic, depending on whether or not you and your family like to eat brownies while they are still warm.
And that’s it. Food that is quick, easy, and healthy as far as picnic fare goes (lean protein, green vegetable, starch, healthy fats, and a fun dessert!). Throw it in a picnic basket with a blanket, some paper products, and your sunscreen, and you are good to go. Have a happy, healthy, safe Labor Day, from my family to yours!

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